CHICAGO (Oct. 30, 2014) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn with Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Panama and Guatemala in Group A for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The draw took place in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and the qualification tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup takes place Jan. 9-24 in Kingston and Montego Bay.
In the group stage, the USA opens against Guatemala on Jan. 9, followed by Panama (Jan. 11), Aruba (Jan. 14), Jamaica (Jan. 18) and Trinidad & Tobago (Jan. 21).
The tournament will qualify four teams to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
“It was a difficult draw for many of the teams, including Group A because we will be one of the teams that has to travel from Kingston to Montego Bay during the tournament,” U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos said. “I think getting drawn with Jamaica and Panama in particular, those will be some difficult opponents. At the end of the day, if you want to advance to the World Cup, you need to beat good teams, so we’re looking forward to the tournament.”
- Group A: Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Panama, USA, Guatemala
- Group B: Haiti, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, El Salvador
USA’s Group A Schedule:
- Friday, Jan. 9: Guatemala, 5:30 p.m. ET
- Sunday, Jan. 11: Panama, 5:30 p.m. ET
- Wednesday, Jan. 14: Aruba, 5:30 p.m. ET
- Sunday, Jan. 18: Jamaica, 8 p.m. ET
- Wednesday, Jan. 21: Trinidad & Tobago, 5:30 p.m. ET
The CONCACAF U-20 Championship format has changed for 2015 with two groups of six teams. Previous tournaments had featured four groups of three teams.
Under the new setup, the first-place teams in Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and advance to face each other in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final. The second- and third-place teams in each group (four teams) will be reseeded based on group-stage results. In this playoff stage, the top seed will play the No. 4 seed and the second seed will face the No. 3 seed. The two winners from these respective games will also qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
In preparation for qualifying, the U.S. U-20 MNT is headed to Marbella, Spain, from Nov. 10-19 for three international matches. The USA will face Russia’s U-20 national team on Nov. 12, the Republic of Ireland’s U-21 national team on Nov. 15 and Canada’s U-20s on Nov. 18. The U-20 MNT roster for the Spain trip will be announced in the coming days.
“As we get into Spain, that will be a great opportunity to see some of our European-based players, so I’m excited about finally getting that camp in Europe,” Ramos said. “Come December, when we are putting things together, I believe we will have a group that will help us qualify for the World Cup. It is a deep group, so we will definitely have some difficult decisions to make.”
The U.S. finished runner-up to Mexico at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico. That group qualified for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where the team was drawn a difficult Group A that included France, Spain and Ghana. Though the USA did not advance out of the group, it did play eventual champion France to a 1-1 draw.
The USA has earned second place in the qualification tournament six times (1980, 1982, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2013), but has yet to win a CONCACAF U-20 Championship title.
The U.S. has qualified for 13 FIFA World Youth Championships/FIFA U-20 World Cups. The USA’s best World Cup finish was a fourth-place performance at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship.